Victoria’s construction sector will be able to fully reopen once the state hits 80 percent double-dose vaccination rates for COVID-19, the government in that state has said.
But the requirement for all construction workers to be vaccinated will remain.
The Victorian Government has released its long-awaited roadmap for reopening the state.
As far as the property and construction sector is concerned, the roadmap states that:
- Construction: workforce caps will be increased to 50 per cent at the 70 per cent double vaccination milestone, and then move to full capacity at the 80 per cent milestone. The compulsory vaccine mandate remains in place.
- Real estate: outdoor auctions will resume at the 70 per cent full vaccination milestone with a capacity of 50, and indoor auctions will resume at the next step, with capacity restrictions loosened. The Property Council says it is seeking clarification on the status of commercial real estate within this plan and will provide more information to members when we receive it.
- Retail: outdoor service can restart at the 70 per cent full vaccination mark (except for hairdressing, which can resume indoors with a 5-patron cap only for fully vaccinated), but a full reopening will take place at 80 per cent. A one person per four square metres density quotient will apply.
- Office-based work: the list of authorised workers will remain until the 70 per cent full vaccination At 80 per cent, the advice will become that you can go to on-site work if fully vaccinated, OR you should work from home if you can. A one person per two square metre density quotient will apply for areas not accessible to the public. Masks must continue to be worn indoors in the workplace.
The 70 percent double vaccination rate is expected to be reached by 26 October.
The 80 percent double vaccination rate (ages 16+ years) is expected to be reached by November 5.
In addition, further clarification has been provided in respect of meal breaks and tea rooms.
As part of new requirements enacted last week, workers are not able to consume food or drink other than water in an indoor environment – a move the government says will reduce the risk of transmission where workers are not wearing face masks.
However, the Master Builders Association of Victoria says it has received confirmation that:
- Smoko & meal breaks may be taken by workers on site.
- They can take their breaks at an appropriate location on site, as long as they are not together & are keeping a safe distance.
- The crib/lunchrooms can be used by workers, as long as they are not together.
A list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to current changes for building and construction can be seen here.
At a broader level, the roadmap envisages a reopening involving five stages.
These will occur at the stages of 80 percent first vaccination, school reopening, 70 percent double dose, 80 percent double dose and when 80 percent of twelve-year-olds and over are vaccinated (see below).
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the roadmap will set the state on a hopeful path to reopening whilst also preserving the health system and ensuring that Victorian can still get the healthcare they need when they need it.
“These past 20 months have been incredibly hard on all Victorians,” Andrews said.
“We have missed our loved ones and doing the things we love, all the while buying time for people to get vaccinated.
“Opening up too soon – before people had the chance to get the jab – would mean our hospital system simply could not cope and catastrophic numbers of Victorians would become seriously unwell.
“However, as more and more Victorians get that protection, we move to the next phase of the pandemic and we have the opportunity to open up. The path to being open again will be difficult – but essential to moving forward as a state.”
Property Council of Australia Victorian Executive Director Danni Hunter welcomed the roadmap.
“The Government’s roadmap is a sensible, balanced plan for the timely reopening of Victoria as our vaccination rates increase, and as we tackle the continuing challenges to our health system brought about by the pandemic,” Hunter said.
“After 230 days of lockdowns, Melbourne’s CBD has been devastated by the pandemic. Many businesses have closed, office occupancy and vacancies are at record high levels and the city is on life support. This plan balances the health challenge with the social and economic challenge and gives Victorians hope.”
Five Stages of Reopening – Broad Summary
At a broad level, the stages of reopening under the roadmap are as follows:
Step 1: 80% single vaccination – approximately 26 September
Resumption of social outdoor recreation activities in metropolitan Melbourne and small personal training for fully vaccinated people.
Step 2: School reopening – begins start of Term 4 on 5 October
Some VCE students will return for on-site learning from the start of Term 4 in Melbourne, while regional Victoria schools can return in line with the end of Term 3. Other school students begin to return as part of a staggered return from 18 October in Melbourne, and more advice on regional Victoria will be provided closer to the start of the term.
Step 3: 70% double vaccination – approximately 26 October
At this point, the stay-at-home order and curfew will be lifted for metropolitan Melbourne and the travel limit will be expanded to 25 kilometres for Melburnians.
Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues can re-open for small outdoor crowds, and all school students will be back for on-site learning at least part of the week. More social and recreation activities will also reopen in regional Victoria.
Step 4: 80% double vaccination – approximately 5 November
This milestone will see metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria come under the same rules and a reopening of large parts of the state, such as:
- Reopening of all retail;
- Ability to go to on-site work if fully vaccinated;
- Removal of outdoor mask-wearing requirements;
- A full return of on-site school learning, and on-site adult education for fully vaccinated;
- Resumption of home visits and increase in outdoor gathering limits.
Step 5: 80 Percent of 12+ Fully vaccinated – approximately two weeks after Step 4
All settings will alight to with the National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 response.